The Deep Blue Good-By by John D. MacDonald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
If you’ve been conned or robbed out of something by a shady character then Travis McGee will try to get it back for half the value of what was taken. And if you’re a woman he’ll more than likely bang you in the process. No extra charge.
Cathy Kerr is a single mom whose father had hidden something valuable he brought back from serving in the military overseas before being sent to prison. After he dies in jail a pyschopath named Junior Allen shows up and manages to locate and steal the goods. While trying to pick up Junior’s trail McGee finds himself reluctantly cast as the savior and caregiver of Lois, a woman that Junior brutally assaulted and dominated to the point that she was total wreck in the aftermath.
This first novel in the series sets the tone with MacDonald doing some sharp writing that works as both crime story and social commentary with Travis quietly rebelling against the consumerist and conformist culture he despises. Unfortunately, it’s also pretty dated in a way that lets McGee function as both a womanizing sexist and the white knight there to defend damsels in distress. [It’s a particularly eye rolling piece of business when Travis’s scheme gets Lois killed. As usual, MacDonald writes it that McGee gets to have his cake and eat it too by engaging in a pity party that lets him play the wounded hero, and yet it’s sexual healing from Cathy Kerr that ultimately heals and redeems him. So Lois essentially just functioned as a noirish regret for Travis to have but ultimately redeemed from. Tough luck, Lois! (hide spoiler)]
It’s dated, but there’s still good stuff here. I’m looking forward to the planned movie version of this because he could still be a great character if he gets modernized a bit. Hopefully, Christian Bale can do for Travis McGee what Daniel Craig has done for James Bond.
View all my reviews